Treasure said: But not all people live heroically!
Not all people are faced with the opportunity,
nor blessed with the skills, the awareness, or the capacity.
What one calls heroic another may call stupid, perspective and capacity and opportunity is part of what 'happens', and part of what we fear might
Jen said: If the greatest thing a person can achieve in this moment, is to put one foot in front of the other and remember to breathe, that is enough. If the only 'solution' a person can see is to end their mortal suffering, that is their reality, within their capacity, awareness. It stands to reason that one who is not capable of being rational, is unable to make rational decisions. The flip side of this is that one who is making rational decisions does so through capacity.
KBrooke said: I REALLY appreciated this comment, Jen. This offered a lot of clarity to me. Especially since, after I read a bit about Frankl, I immediately felt a surge of self-hatred, guilt, shame, and harsh comparisons. I can barely get myself out of bed without wanting to slash my wrists most mornings and here is this man who finds himself in a concentration camp(s) and is able to stay present. I know that comparisons are not helpful, but I find myself at the mercy of them right now. So, when I read what you just wrote (above) it really spoke to me and I am trying to keep that in mind. I do tend to compare myself to the "heros" in this world such as Frankl and I become more deeply engrossed in depression when I do. But I feel compelled to do it and it feels almost out of my control. I thank you for sharing all of this insight you have.
This is one of the reasons I so passionately speak out against judging the path of another - as in Desiderata one will always find (aspects) better or worse than oneself.
If I may, J, with great hugs of compassion, meet the man a little closer on his own turf - not what you assume his story holds, not what others say of him or what it says to them, but what he says directly to you
from his story.
I held off from reading it even though I'd read about it
, and even borrowed very wise quotes from him where they hit a chord and made sense to me. His actual story is beautifully acceptingly written, his vulnerabilities and coping strategies shared in a way that those in pain will still be able to resonate with. He admits his own moments of despair and distractions. He admits that he takes pride in sharing his hard labour stories of suffering and pain, as a former comfortably accommodated academic and psychiatrist he never knew the capacity that he actually could harness and employ by making meaning greater than his own experiences, if
required. He shares that he did things and thought things that his moral reasoning cannot quite catch up with, he discusses guilt, weaknesses, unpalatable acceptances.. I cannot possibly express the worth of this with the accuracy that he does.
I feel sure that he absolutely would support the notion that you loved from above, from his own observations of what it takes at times just to survive - and he is talking, in his own words of the 'multitude of small torments', not the big ticket items that seem far removed from every day survival and freedom in our minds. We may all strive for high ideals and face disappointing ourselves and others when reality blows our moral supports out from under us. He knew how lucky he was to have been moved from a camp just days before cannibalism became the last bastion of survival. How fortunate he was to not have to be faced with that decision. If I may, let him share his perspective with you, before you make any judgements about his or your own capacity with the knowledge he had, and has shared. It's really just not fair on either of you before that.
I would say the same of any one admired or demonised for responses to situations, one cannot know what one would do in their shoes, or what the person has actually done or thought or felt in their own shoes. It is always both better and worse than anyone else can imagine.
That article originally posted has an updated follow up (linked in the original article), and the author admits that they did not mean to be so harsh in the first one, and they've clarified their perspective more from responses and questions to the first article. Even so, it is their perspective, from their capacity, in their experiences. It is a theoretical application of spiritual knowledge towards un-experienced physical and mental suffering - how accurate can it really be?
Kathleen said: There are definitely problems associated with heroes. When we idolize someone and forget that they have flaws too, we diminish their humanity and make it harder for ourselves to be like them.
It can also have a negative impact on the idolized person. They start believing they are somehow superhuman and the power makes them arrogant, or they take advantage. Gurus have been brought down by their devotees in this way.
There is a third 'problem' Kathleen and it is the base of both of these problems, perspectives, external opinions are taken to be truth, and they are not true, they are value laden judgements.
We are all unique, precious individuals walking our own path, in our own shoes, heroes and villains in our own lives.
In order to make a hero of another, people must believe that they know the experience, the substance, the value, the lessons, the nuances of an experience of another, they build a wall of separation not realising that what they are seeing and thinking is through their own lens of experience, within their own capacity - tested or untested, known or unknown, and what they imagine the experience to contain is nothing at all like the original experiencer's experience of it. It never can be, it is only imagined.
We all go through our experiences one moment at a time, we all put one foot in front of the other with the capacity we have available to us, and this is growing and tested with every new experience, even new experiences of old or well known to self experiences. When one accepts that one way causes suffering, and when that suffering has our attention, we choose anew. We all, will only know our capacity when we use it, and we all, will only use it when and if an experience asks it of us.
A hero can inspire us to be a better person, to be more courageous in speaking our mind, to persevere in hardship, to be a more loving and kinder person, etc.
If we didn't have the capacity in the first place we wouldn't even consider these things 'positive' or worthy of aspiring to. It won't make us a 'better' person, it will still just be us responding to what is, with what we know and have in capacity.
By all means learn from others, ask questions (I always want to know where/how they went to the toilet, that we all need to know in a variety of situations
) - allow another's wisdom and hindsight to be your foresight when applicable, but don't falsely believe that they got there any other way than you will. And when you do, you won't recognise it as heroism either, you'll know you are just doing what you can with what you have. There is no credit or blame here.
Believing that they are
xyz, instead of momentarily employing the skills & perspectives of xyz is the biggest problem of all for one who would make hero / villain / victim of anyone, or enemy / obstacle / means to an end of a person, thing or situation, even them self.
In part, ironically that's what the dude in the original article kinda said about labels, and interestingly he does come to the same conclusion as Frankl, that in order to make meaning of life one needs to focus on something bigger than 'self'. Albeit, I prefer Frankl's version of that.